On the block – 25

A weekly series of posts highlighting interesting Grand Seiko watches on the market


When I first started writing these weekly posts, the intention was to feature one watch from each of the three main Japanese channels for acquiring vintage Grand Seikos – Yahoo Japan auctions, Rakuten, and individual dealer websites.

In recent weeks it’s been very challenging to keep to this format, as sometimes there simply aren’t significantly interesting pieces from each channel.

This week however, I’m actually spoilt for choice on all three!

For those who don’t regularly read these articles, if you want to understand how to go about acquiring a watch from Japan, when the vast majority of sellers will not ship overseas, do read my article on ZenMarket which provides all the details.

As usual, photos in this article are of pieces from my own collection, so without further ado, onto the watches. Starting with a really special one.

Japanese dealer 1

Grand Seiko 6185-8010 VFA
Grand Seiko 6185-8010 VFA

These come up very rarely indeed. In fact, the listing that I am going to link to from a dealer’s website is only the second time I have seen this particular model on offer for sale in the last two years. The last time one came up? I bought it.

The watch can be found with the Nagoya-based dealer Big Moon, on sale for 898,000 Yen (including sales tax). The listing only went live today, and – assuming there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the watch – personally I think it is significantly under-priced.

Whilst, generally, it is fair to say that the 61GS series VFA’s (“Very Fine Adjusted”) are not that hard to come by, the earlier 6185 models with the 6185A calibre are rarely seen. They can be immediately identified from their later variants because the dial does not have the “VFA” designation above the Suwa logo, and the Suwa logo is applied to the dial, rather than being printed on it.

This particular model – the 6185-8010 – is further distinguished by the unique material used for its case, an alloy of silver and palladium, which has a hammered treatment on the left and right flanks of the case.

Now it must be said that 898,000 Yen is quite a sum to spend when buying a watch remotely unseen, and it may be wise if you have any concerns to ask some questions of the seller. Having said that, if I was dealing in vintage Grand Seikos rather than simply collecting them, I would buy this – I don’t expect it to hang around for long.

Japanese dealer 2

Well I did say I was spoilt for choice this week, so here’s another amazing listing.

Grand Seiko Chronometer "First"/"3180"
Grand Seiko Chronometer “First”/”3180”

Above is pictured my “raised dial” example of the very first Grand Seiko. “The” Grand Seiko, as I like to refer to it, rather than by the names it has picked up over the years of either “First”, or “3180”.

Now last week I did a special feature on examples of this watch that have sold on Yahoo Japan auctions for over 250,000 Yen in the last three months.

This week, I’m featuring a 3180 for sale at well over double the amount the most expensive of those Yahoo Auction listing sold for. Yup, it’s a 3180 with an asking price of no less than 998,000 Yen (US$8,867 at today’s exchange rate).

One click on that link and you’ll appreciate why the price is so high. This is a near full-set example of the first Grand Seiko, complete with inner and outer boxes, chronometer rating certificate, manual and swing tag. Also note that the watch has been recently serviced by Grand Seiko themselves.

A couple of caveats. Firstly, the buckle is not original. And secondly, I believe that there should also be another item that was originally tied to the strap of the watch. The in-house issue of Seiko News from March 1961, that is the earliest piece of promotional material that I have on the watch, actually shows an additional engraved medallion of some sort, as well as the key-shaped item that you can just see in the photos accompanying this listing. Here’s a shot of the cover of Seiko News.

Seiko News, March 1961, cover detail
Seiko News, March 1961, cover detail

The key-shaped swing-tag on the right of the watch is included in this auction, but there is no sign of the swing-tag to the left of the watch.

It should be noted that the above image is of an early, carved dial example of the 3180. The box that these early pieces were sold with was of a different design to those used later, and it is possible that perhaps the second swing-tag wasn’t included? If anyone has further information on this, please do let me know in the comments.

If you are seriously considering purchasing this, you should definitely ask for confirmation that the movement serial numbers on both the certificate and the key-shaped swing-tag match the movement number of the watch. Additionally, you should ask for confirmation as to the case serial number to identify the month it was manufactured, and also the date on the certificate.

With regards to the watch itself, it is clearly in fantastic condition.

The question of course is whether or not having the boxes and papers to go with the watch itself makes the package worth three to four times what the watch on its own would sell for? After all, this is one of the later, and much more common, raised logo dialed watches. It is also worth noting that the full-set example of a 3180 that I detailed a few weeks ago is still available from Kyotoya, so you may want to think carefully regarding which one to go for. I know I am…


Grand Seiko 6146-8000 early "Grand Seiko" dial
Grand Seiko 6146-8000 early “Grand Seiko” dial

Over on Rakuten, a much-featured  around these parts dealer, Kyotoya, has what looks to be a very nice example of the early “Grand Seiko”-dialed 6146-8000 listed for just 118,000 Yen. Click through from the ZenMarket link I provide to the full listing on Rakuten to see more images of the watch for sale. Frankly, I think this is under-priced. If you are interested in acquiring one of these (Seiko changed the dial layout a month after this watch was produced), you could do a lot worse than snapping this one up.

Yahoo Japan auctions

Finally this week, as with the “Grand Seiko”-dialed 6146 above, we find an early dial variant of another watch. This time the 4420-9000.

Grand Seiko 4420-9000 early Diashock dial
Grand Seiko 4420-9000 early Diashock dial

The vintage 44GS is one of the rarer series of vintage Grand Seikos with both models and numbers produced fairly limited. In fact, there were just two model numbers for the 44GS – the 4420-9000, in stainless steel as seen here, and the very rare 4420-9990 in cap gold.

The stainless steel variant comes with two different dials. The early watches have the text “Diashock” underneath “Grand Seiko”, mimicking the dial layout of the 5722-9991. Later examples dropped the “Diashock” text and replaced it with the Daini factory logo.

I’ve featured listings from this particular seller, “be_rich2012” before. The seller has a peculiar strategy of listing his items both on Yahoo Auctions and Rakuten. Here is the listing for the early dialed 4420-9000 that he is selling this week on Yahoo.

As you can see, bidding is up to 130,000 Yen, but he has an undisclosed minimum buy price that hasn’t been reached yet. Note also that you will need to add 8% Japanese local sales tax to whatever bid you put in for this watch. Over on Rakuten, where items are sold for a fixed price that includes the sales tax, he has it listed for 257,904 Yen. The equivalent bid price over on Yahoo would be 238,800.

Whether or not the minimum buy price he has set on Yahoo is below that, only he knows. 258,000 Yen is a high price for one of these, and I think he’ll struggle to get what he’s asking for on Rakuten. However, if the minimum buy price on Yahoo is more in the 180-200K range, it might be worth a punt. Ignoring watches from a particular dealer who I simply don’t trust, in the last couple of months two examples of this early-dialed 4420 have sold on Yahoo for as much as 200,000 Yen.

It should also be said that this watch doesn’t appear to be quite as rare as some would lead you to believe, in that examples do crop up quite regularly, and if you are not desperate to get one, you may be better off passing on this and being patient.

And finally for this week, on the subject of watches you would be better off passing on, a quick note on an auction that closed less than 24 hours ago…

Caveat Emptor

I have mentioned in the past that there are a couple of sellers on Yahoo Auctions who regularly sell re-dialed vintage Grand Seikos without mentioning that the watches are not all original.

Here is an example of such a listing that closed just yesterday.

Now, unless someone can prove to me otherwise (and by “prove”, I mean with contemporary marketing material, rather than claims made by other websites based on what has been sold on Yahoo), I do not believe there was ever a black-dial version of the 6155-8000. Nor in fact, do I believe there were ever any black-dialed versions of any 6155 or 6156 “Specials”.

This seller has a long history of selling various black-dialed vintage Grand Seiko models of extremely dubious provenance. They are always photographed in exactly the same way, they are always absolutely mint.

Clearly though, it is very lucrative. Just check out the bidding war that occurred for this listing –

black dial 6155 bidding war
black dial 6155 bidding war

No fewer than five separate accounts placing bids at over 270,000 Yen. This auction extended (which means that with less than 5 minutes to go until the end of the auction, someone placed an increased bid, which then extended the auction for another 5 minutes) no fewer than 23 times before finally closing.

It’s worth noting that the only other example of a 6155 selling for in excess of just 100,000 Yen on Yahoo in the last three months was another black-dialed example, sold by – you guessed it – that other purveyor of dodgy re-dialed watches, tiger_dragon_5955.

And finally –

Just a reminder that I do have a few watches for sale from my collection, including a stainless steel example of the Grand Seiko “First”/3180, which is perhaps now priced a little more realistically at US$10,000.

I have updated the listing for that piece to reflect the new asking price, and also included details on the fact that just last week, another example surfaced in Japan and sold within minutes of being listed by Antiwatchman.

The full list of watches that I am selling can be found – naturally – in the For Sale section of the website. I can assure you that every watch sold means more money to invest in my vintage Grand Seiko collection!

My standard disclaimer – whilst I personally would be happy to have any of the pieces I comment on positively in my collection, you do need to be aware that there are always risks when you purchase a watch remotely. My recommendation of a watch can in no way be taken as any guarantee as to its condition or authenticity, nor as to the credibility of the individual or company selling it.





1 thought on “On the block – 25”

  1. Hi Gerald. I was following the auction on that black dialed 6155 Special. I was quite surprised at the price it reached. Did some research and could not find much info about that particular model with that dial color.
    I found your post on First Grand Seiko 3180 very informative. Shortly after I read it, saw one example which did not have the word “Chronometer” under Grand Seiko. The Seller seemed to be clear about the chance that this was a modified, read “redialed” piece.
    Thanks for your posts! I am often visiting your page.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *